Cinema's first zombie movie! How old is it? So old that it predates when zombie meant Romero's flesh-eaters, and instead was rooted in Haitian voodoo. The best and worst pre-Code tendencies: stiff writing and acting, but frequently an inventive shot or an eerie bit of sound design, and always a perverse undercurrent from this story about killing your crush so you can make them a reanimated slave. Fun time had by all.
"For you, my friend, they are the angels of death!" Lugosi kicks serious ass in this flick! For what should have been some Grade-Z-Talkie, the Halperin Bros. were pretty damned groundbreaking. There's some truly creepy shots in this. Good commentary on what it means to possess someone; "I thought that beauty alone would satisfy. But the soul is gone. I can't bear those empty, staring eyes."
2 1/2 out of 5 stars. A tough watch with brutal story pacing which is a classic example of why I'm not a fan of movies from the early 30s. On the plus side some of the imagery is fantastic. It kind of felt like Fritz Lang making Dracula. White Zombie is more of a museum piece than a work of art but still worth a look.
Bela Lugosi stars in the very first zombie movie, which introduced the Haitian legend to the world in 1932. When a young couple travels to Haiti to get married, a jealous benefactor brings Lugosi's creepy zombie slave driver in to curse the woman so he can keep her as his own. A bit stiff in places, but there are some interesting visual things going on here, as well as a terrifically edited, nail biting finale.
I know it's a classic and I know it's Lugosi but it's actually quite hard to watch in 2010 and has aged much worse than 'I Walked with a Zombie', some of the dramatic pauses are a little too long and a little too dramatic but it does have charm, it does have character and for its time it must have been a hell of a film!
It's horribly dated and excruciatingly slow-paced by modern standards - this is one film that has not aged well. But the lavish stage-bound sets and overwrought performances sometimes reach a strange almost surreal quality that makes for some very memorable gothic imagery. Maybe more interesting as a historical relic than as entertainment, but those with a taste for classic horror will find a lot to savor here.